Canadian Aquaculture R&D Review 2017

CIMTAN

2010–2017: Seven Productive Years for the Canadian Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture Network (CIMTAN)

After seven years of intense activities, between 2010 and 2017, the NSERC strategic network, the Canadian Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture Network (CIMTAN), is finished.

The aim of CIMTAN’s research was to ecologically engineer systems for increased environmental sustainability (ecosystem services and green technologies for improved ecosystem health), economic stability (improved output, lower costs, product diversification, risk reduction, and job creation in coastal and rural communities), and societal acceptability (better management practices, improved regulatory governance, nutrient trading credit incentives, and appreciation of differentiated and safe products).

The Network was organized into three linked Domains: 1) environmental system performance and species interactions; 2) system design and engineering; and 3) economic analyses and social implications. Each Domain was co-led by one scientist at an academic institution and one at a Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) laboratory. The entire Network was comprised of 28 scientists from 8 universities, 6 DFO laboratories, 1 provincial government laboratory (New Brunswick Research and Productivity Council), and 4 industrial partners. The Network was hosted by the University of New Brunswick in Saint John (UNBSJ), where the Scientific Director of the Network was located.

The budget for CIMTAN was nearly $12.8 M over the 7 years of its existence. This was consequential as it enabled the Network to obtain far-reaching achievements along the continuum R&D&C (commercialization). Of this, over $5 M was received from NSERC with the rest leveraged through both cash and in-kind contributions from government, academic, and industrial partners.

Training of highly qualified personnel (HQP) was a very high priority for CIMTAN and 137 HQP (120% of the initial target) were trained: 76 undergraduate students, 35 Masters students, 6 PhD students, 7 postdoctoral fellows, 12 technicians, and 1 research scientist. CIMTAN enabled the priming of young talents so they could enter a highly skilled labour force well-prepared, capable of thinking critically and independently, and well-versed in the interdisciplinary approach to problem solving. Our CIMTAN HQP have either pursued higher academic degrees or found jobs in a variety of sectors (academic, industrial, regulatory or non-governmental). It is interesting to see how these HQP have become respected professionals and remarkable agents of knowledge dissemination and technology transfer in several sectors, to the extent that it is no longer necessary to re-explain what IMTA is about at each meeting.

CIMTAN was always interested in disseminating and translating its scientific research, results, and perspectives. CIMTAN produced a substantial number of publications (617), testifying to the accomplishments and vitality of the Network. More than 1150 contacts were made with 232 media outlets across 42 countries, through interviews or citations. The deliberate choice to use a diverse array of documents and media platforms (scientific papers, papers and abstracts in conference proceedings, book chapters, theses, reports, professional magazines articles, newspapers/radio/TV interviews and documentaries, public school activities, Google Scholar, ResearchGate, LinkedIn, YouTube videos, CIMTAN Snippets newsletter, Wikipedia, etc.) has enabled the Network to reach varied targeted fields and audiences in Canada and beyond, and to spread the IMTA message widely with researchers, federal and provincial agencies, the industry, professional associations, coastal and rural communities, First Nations, national and international environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs), and the general and school public.

Two media were very successful at reaching audiences beyond those associated with the traditional scientific dissemination tools: the Network newsletter CIMTAN Snippets and 15 videos posted on YouTube. There were 40 issues of CIMTAN Snippets over 6 years, totaling 331 pages of information about the activities of the Network, sent to 842 subscribers, some of whom are known to have redistributed CIMTAN Snippets to others. YouTube has been a very efficient dissemination platform for the IMTA concept and the principles on which it is based. By December 31, 2016, the IMTA YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/imtacanada/videos) had reached 85,334 total views of its 15 videos.

The following research articles in this section describe each of the 16 projects of CIMTAN.

Date: JAN. 2010–JAN. 2017

Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Network Program

Co-funded by: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO); University of New Brunswick (UNB); New Brunswick Research Productivity Council (NBRPC); Cooke Aquaculture Inc.; Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.; Marine Harvest Canada Limited; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.

Project Lead: Thierry Chopin (UNBSJ)

Project Team: Bruce MacDonald, Adrian Hamer (UNBSJ); Gregor Reid (UNBSJ; DFO); Shawn Robinson, Chris Pearce, Saleem Rahman (DFO); Maycira Costa (UVic); Duncan Knowler (SFU)

Collaborators: DFO; NBRPC; Cooke Aquaculture Inc.; Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.; Marine Harvest Canada Limited; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.

Contact: tchopin@unbsj.ca

Website: http://www.cimtan.ca/

Logo: NSERC Canadian Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture Network

An IMTA site in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada: two salmon cages on the left, one mussel raft on the right and two seaweed rafts in the background. Photo: Thierry Chopin (UNBSJ)

Quantifying the Capture and Conversion Efficiencies of Species Being Considered for Organic Extraction in Open-Water IMTA Systems

This project assessed the capability of different invertebrate species to capture, absorb, and convert particulate fish-farm waste into new production.

On the east coast, Blue Mussels (Mytilus edulis) were capable of ingesting and efficiently absorbing small organic material from both fish food and faeces. After a variety of feeding trials using artificial diets in the laboratory and natural particles at IMTA sites, we determined that the Orange-Footed Sea Cucumber (Cucumaria frondosa) could also efficiently extract larger organic material from farm waste. Biodeposition techniques and flume feeding trials revealed that C. frondosa fed equally among all particle sizes monitored (200-1200 µm) but rates of clearance in the field (7.2 L day-1) were relatively low compared to other species being considered for mitigation.

On the west coast, species assessed for extractive capabilities include filter feeders such as Basket Cockles (Clinocardium nuttallii) and Blue Mussels (M. edulis), as well as deposit feeders such as Green Sea Urchins (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis), California Sea Cucumbers (Parastichopus californicus), and Pacific Prawns (Pandalus platyceros). Green Sea Urchins and California Sea Cucumbers ingest and absorb Sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) faeces at rates comparable to or higher than those for traditional diets such as kelps and natural sediment, respectively.

This research has enabled the assessment of nutritional responses for a variety of shellfish and deposit-feeder species on diets of fish-farm organics, thereby providing crucial insight into co-cultured species selection and IMTA system efficiency.

Date: JAN. 2010–JAN. 2017

Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Network Program

Co-funded by: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO); University of New Brunswick (UNB); New Brunswick Research Productivity Council (NBRPC); Cooke Aquaculture Inc.; Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.; Marine Harvest Canada Limited.; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.

Project Lead: Bruce MacDonald (UNBSJ)

Project Team: Shawn Robinson, Chris Pearce, Dan Curtis (DFO); Gregor Reid, Emily Nelson, Kurt Simmons (UNBSJ); Stephen Cross, Lindsay Orr, Sarah Sprague (UVic); Helen Gurney-Smith (VIU); Shannon Balfry (UBC); Vancouver Aquarium); Steve Pace (UBC)

Collaborators: Cooke Aquaculture Inc.; Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.

Contact: bmacdon@unb.ca

Website: http://www.cimtan.ca/

California Sea Cucumber, Parastichopus californicus. Photo: Dominique Bureau (DFO)

Cultivation of Complementary Inorganic Extractive Species for Increased System Performance

This project investigates the red alga Palmaria palmata (Dulse) for increased inorganic biomitigation of IMTA systems when kelps are not present at the sites. Large-scale cultivation of this species has been hampered by a complex life history, in which P. palmata alternates between sexual (with macroscopic male and microscopic female gametophytes) and asexual (with macroscopic tetrasporophytes) reproduction. One of the current challenges is that male gametophytes are indistinguishable from tetrasporophytes by conventional microscopy when they are not reproductive.

We took two approaches (molecular and spectroscopic) to make identification easier. We designed and tested primers to target DNA in an intron region in an actin gene that is expressed in tetrasporophytes, but not in males, in an attempt to identify a sex-linked molecular marker, however, the intron region showed no difference. Individual ratios, or combinations of ratios, of spectral bands obtained by Raman and near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy allowed for classification between male gametophytes and tetrasporophytes.

The cultivation of P. palmata in the laboratory has progressed (design and testing of new substrates/panels; increased light irradiance and photoperiod). The best timing of transfer to the sites remains to be better understood to reduce biofouling.

The cultivation, harvesting, and processing of the two kelps (Saccharina latissima and Alaria esculenta) continue to be improved. They have continuously been organically certified since 2014.

The project is also looking at the development of appropriate and efficient regulations for seaweeds and the management of inorganic nutrient loading, within an integrated coastal area management strategy and scale.

This research has developed a better understanding of the issues related to the management of the inorganic load from aquaculture operations. It has highlighted the ecosystem functions and services provided by the inorganic extractive component of IMTA. It has brought understanding to the need to consider IMTA within the context of an integrated coastal area management strategy. Integration should be understood as cultivation in proximity, not considering absolute distances but connectivity in terms of ecosystemic functionalities, which means that entire bays/coastal areas/regions could be the units of IMTA management.

Date: JAN. 2010–JAN. 2017

Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Network Program

Co-funded by: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO); University of New Brunswick (UNB); New Brunswick Research Productivity Council (NBRPC); Cooke Aquaculture Inc.; Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.; Marine Harvest Canada Limited; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.

Project Lead: Thierry Chopin (UNBSJ)

Project Team: Constanza Chianale, Caroline Longtin, Ellen Belyea, Adrian Hamer, Samuel Backman (UNBSJ)

Collaborators: Cooke Aquaculture Inc.

Contact: tchopin@unbsj.ca

Website: http://www.cimtan.ca/

Line of Sugar Kelp (Saccharina latissima) at an IMTA site in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada. Photo: Thierry Chopin (UNBSJ)

Quantifying the Role of Microbes in the Nutrient Recycling of Organic Material from IMTA Sites

Understanding the various paths and processes by which energy flows through an IMTA site is one of the main objectives in the creation of sustainable aquaculture systems using ecosystem-based approaches. As food from one trophic level is recycled through another, the energy associated with the organic particles is stripped out and is converted to inorganic waste products such as ammonia, carbon dioxide, or heat. This transfer process occurs between all trophic levels right down to the lowest where the bacteria and other microbes reside.

The objective of this project was to evaluate and quantify the role that bacteria play in nutrient recycling at a salmon aquaculture site and to evaluate the relative scale of their ability to convert organic particles into inorganic components. Specifically, we enumerated bacteria and their respiration rates on and away from finfish aquaculture farms in both the water column and the benthos on a seasonal basis at IMTA sites in the Bay of Fundy. Additionally, we identified prominent members of the benthic and pelagic bacterial communities associated with the aquaculture sites and how they varied with depth, distance, and time.

The results are demonstrating that these non-pathogenic bacteria are playing a very large role in carbon conversion on a farm lease and should be considered in the design of aquaculture sites in the future. This information is also contributing to a model being prepared on energy flow through an IMTA site.

This research provided insight into the role heterotrophic bacteria are playing in the recycling of organic wastes near salmon aquaculture farms. This will provide much needed guidance on what the carrying capacity is for benthic and pelagic microbes to convert organic carbon which will have direct implications on feeding rates of the fish and time required for fallowing the site after a production cycle. The research may also provide insights on what proactive measures might be taken before fish production starts.

Date: JAN. 2010–JAN. 2017

Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Network Program

Co-funded by: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO); University of New Brunswick (UNB); New Brunswick Research Productivity Council (NBRPC); Cooke Aquaculture Inc.; Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.; Marine Harvest Canada Limited; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.

Project Lead: Shawn Robinson (DFO)

Project Team: Bruce MacDonald, Thierry Chopin, David Thumbi, Hannah Bradford, Kelli Mitchell, Leslie-Marie MacArthur-Britt, Eric Manuel (UNBSJ); Ben Forward (NBRPC); Terralynn Lander, Craig Smith (DFO)

Collaborators: Cooke Aquaculture Inc.

Contact: Shawn.Robinson@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: http://www.cimtan.ca/

Miniature respiration chamber holding a filter (0.2 μm pore size) coated with bacteria and seston from a sample. The pink dot is an oxygen optode that reads oxygen levels over time inside the vial when pulsed with blue light from outside the vial with the black fibre optic probe. Photo: Shawn Robinson (DFO)

Quantifying Energy and Nutrient Dispersal and Scales of Influence on Wild Species from Open-Water IMTA Sites

This research, on methods to quantify the effect of mid-water nutrients in wild species, revealed that site-specific hydrographic conditions are critical components for colonization, growth, and quality of many nutrient extracting wild species that inhabit the coastal zone near aquaculture farms.

One approach has been to sample wild species biocolonization to measure changes in diversity and growth in the “near-field” and “far-field”. This revealed that introduced habitats placed near and far from aquaculture sites attract very different species rather than altered growth of any one dominant organism. Differences in mid-water physical environment and the presence of appropriate habitat substrates, from cage structure or coastal topography, are as important to wild species colonization as the availability of nutrients alone.

Another approach has sought to measure changing colour characteristics of wild algal species as a proxy to current analytical laboratory techniques to measure nitrogen concentrations in the water column or nitrogen content in algal tissues. Several species of naturally occurring algae (some of which may also be commercially important) exhibited changes in colour characteristics throughout their growing season. Within a relatively confined geographic location and season, the relationship between colour and tissue nutrient content (% nitrogen) is small. However, differences in colour and the relationship with % nitrogen is more pronounced among different locations and time periods and could be a potential tool to monitor changes in nutrient availability on a larger scale.

This is key information to support the design of IMTA sites using nutrient extracting species, as well as to understand IMTA performance measures for those species integrated for the purpose of extracting aquaculture-related nutrients.

Date: JAN. 2010–JAN. 2017

Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Network Program

Co-funded by: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO); University of New Brunswick (UNB); New Brunswick Research Productivity Council (NBRPC); Cooke Aquaculture Inc.; Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.; Marine Harvest Canada Limited; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.

Project Lead: Andrew Cooper (DFO)

Project Team: Thierry Chopin, Jonathan Day (UNBSJ)

Collaborators: Cooke Aquaculture Inc.

Contact: Andrew.Cooper@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: http://www.cimtan.ca/

Biocollector plates used to measure natural biocolonization of wild species at an IMTA aquaculture site. Photo: Andrew Cooper (DFO)

Loma salmonae: A Microsporidian Model to Help Assess Transmission Dynamics to Pathogens within an IMTA Setting

Our goal has been to modify an infection model for the microsporidian pathogen Loma salmonae, and use this model to evaluate the role that Blue Mussels may have in extracting environmentally released spores within an IMTA setting. Specifically, asking the question of whether Blue Mussels may serve to mitigate disease transmission by deactivating spores that they encounter during feeding. The model has been successfully developed and now allows us to modify various environmental and temporal parameters. A very useful and unexpected outcome was the establishment of L. salmonae within cell culture. This advance will allow far greater flexibility in our studies, both as a tool for producing spores, but also for detecting them within environmental niches under study. To date, we have determined that Blue Mussels are very effective in extracting microsporidial spores from the environment; spores are subsequently released in pseudofeces, or feces, and small proportion of them stored for several weeks within mussel viscera. Spores are not rendered defective whether they are retained, or passed within egesta; in vitro tests of spore viability have been evaluated against the gold standard in vivo measures of infectivity.

The introduction of a bivalve component alongside a salmon growing operation may provide beneficial disease reduction services. A greater understanding of disease dynamics between trophic levels is a key part of health management within integrated settings.

Date: JAN. 2010–JAN. 2017

Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Network Program

Co-funded by: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO); University of New Brunswick (UNB); New Brunswick Research Productivity Council (NBRPC); Cooke Aquaculture Inc.; Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.; Marine Harvest Canada Limited; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.

Project Lead: Dave Speare (UPEI–AVC )

Project Team: Sarah McConnachie, Nicole Guselle (UPEI–AVC)

Contact: speare@upei.ca

Website: http://www.cimtan.ca/

Microsporidial spores developing within a cell-cultured xenoma. Photo: Sarah McConnachie (UPEI–AVC)

Can Filter-Feeding Bivalves Ingest Planktonic Sea Lice, Leading to Reduced Sea Lice Numbers on Cultivated Salmon?

The close proximity of salmon farms and wild Pacific salmon stocks in British Columbia (BC) is an important incentive for precautionary, environmentally-friendly sea lice management strategies.

A field trial was conducted to determine whether IMTA filter-feeding bivalves can provide preventative, natural sea louse control by ingesting sea lice larvae (nauplii and copepodids) from the water column; a system that exploits the sea louse life cycle and the natural filtration capabilities of bivalves. Pacific Oysters, one of several bivalve species that consumed sea lice larvae in previous laboratory experiments, were grown at a commercial Atlantic Salmon farm in BC for 13 months. The 30,000 experimental oysters were deployed in trays at 1, 3, and 6 m around one end of the farm’s 2x7 square-cage array, and at a nearby reference site.

Bivalve growth (both shell size and tissue biomass) was significantly affected by depth and side of the fish cage. Oysters from select sides were consistently, significantly larger than those from other sides and from the reference site. Sea lice mitigation by oysters was assessed by comparing monthly sea lice larval densities inside bivalve and non-bivalve fish cages, and by analyzing preserved oyster digestive tracts for presence of sea lice DNA. Using these methods, no significant evidence of sea lice mitigation was detected. Planktonic sea lice densities inside of the cages were low (typically < 1 m-3), and sea louse mitigation by bivalves may, therefore, require the larvae be concentrated using light or other means and/or the strategic placement of a higher density of bivalves.

The development of non-chemical sea lice mitigation techniques, such as IMTA filter-feeding bivalves, may help improve the environmental, social, and economic performance of salmon farms.

Date: JAN. 2010–JAN. 2017

Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Network Program

Co-funded by: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO); University of New Brunswick (UNB); New Brunswick Research Productivity Council (NBRPC); Cooke Aquaculture Inc.; Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.; Marine Harvest Canada Limited; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.

Project Lead: Chris Pearce (DFO)

Project Team: Allison Byrne, Janis Webb (UVic; DFO); Stephen Cross (UVic); Simon Jones, Shawn Robinson (DFO); Matt Miller, Devan Johnson, Colleen Haddad (VIU; DFO)

Collaborators: Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.; Marine Harvest Canada Limited

Contact: Chris.Pearce@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: http://www.cimtan.ca/

Cleaning biofouling from Pacific Oyster trays at a salmon farm in the Broughton Archipelago, British Columbia. Photo: Allison Byrne (UVic; DFO)

Presence, Effect, and Bioaccumulation of Therapeutants in Polychaetes

Ecto-parasites are common on Atlantic Salmon under cage culture conditions. Severe infestations require treatment with drugs and pesticides. Considerable research has been conducted to assess the risk of these compounds to non-target species, mostly focusing on indigenous species of known commercial or ecological value.

In this project, the non-target species of interest is one being considered as a co-cultured species in an IMTA setting, the Sand Worm Nereis virens. As a co-cultured species, the worms would be exposed to compounds during routine anti-parasitic treatments. Worms were exposed, in treated water, sediment, or sand, to one drug (Slice®, active ingredient emamectin benzoate (EB)) and one pesticide (AlphaMax®, active ingredient deltamethrin). Survival was monitored, as well as sublethal indicators of “wellness”.

Worms exposed to Slice® survived exposure to environmentally-relevant concentrations (~360 µg/kg dry sand) of the product; however, in 30-day studies worms stopped burrowing in the treated substrate and showed signs of poor condition including loss of weight. Worms exposed to AlphaMax® died at concentrations well above the recommended dose, but survived exposures in sediment. Worms exposed to as little as 11 µg/g of wet sediment in 30-day trials stopped burrowing and showed poor condition, including loss of weight. Anti-sea louse treatment could be hazardous to N. virens; however, in the absence of data regarding concentrations of EB or deltamethrin near cage sites, it is difficult to assess the potential risk to cultured worms.

While the two anti-sea louse products are not particularly lethal to N. virens, worms were affected by exposure to these products and results indicate that anti-sea louse treatments have the potential to negatively affect this species. These negative effects could affect the suitability of this species to be co-cultured in IMTA.

Date: JAN. 2010–JAN. 2017

Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Network Program

Co-funded by: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO); University of New Brunswick (UNB); New Brunswick Research Productivity Council (NBRPC); Cooke Aquaculture Inc.; Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.; Marine Harvest Canada Limited; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.

Project Lead: Karen Kidd (UNBSJ)

Project Team: Les Burridge (DFO); Jordana van Geest (DFO; UNBSJ); Geoffrey McBriarty (UNBSJ)

Collaborators: Cooke Aquaculture Inc.

Contact: kiddk@unb.ca

Website: http://www.cimtan.ca/

Preparing Nereis virens worms for a 30-day sublethal exposure. Photo: Geoffrey McBriarty (UNBSJ)

Mathematical Modelling for Open-Water IMTA: Developing Tools to Support System Design and Measures of Sustainability

This project aimed to quantify efficiency of nutrient recovery and augmented growth in open-water IMTA systems. One study explored the seaweed biomass required to remove soluble nutrients from salmon culture. The mean weight ratios of the seaweeds Alaria esculenta and Saccharina latissima required to sequester all soluble nutrients excreted per unit weight of salmon range from 4:1 to 13:1, depending on the nutrient. Another study reported the proportion of fish farm solids ingested by mussels needed to reduce site-wide organic loading at an IMTA site, which ranged between 10% and 20%. A third study suggested the biomitigation potential of mussels will be greatest where seston abundance is low, organic dietary content high, and that achieving maximal waste extraction by mussel co-culture entails food particle depletion that may limit mussel production.

Commercial Sablefish growth and nutrient loading were also modelled. Results suggested that the predicted peak nutrient loading in year two of production was only 1.7 times greater than the peak loading in year one, less than half the annual loading difference reported for cultured Atlantic Salmon. The slower relative growth rate of large Sablefish reduces the discrepancies between annual peak loading periods, enabling better matches of co-cultured species biomass with nutrient supply compared to more rapidly growing fish.

Some field data were recently combined with Norwegian field data to publish a report on discrete water quality sampling at open-water aquaculture sites, their limitations and recommended strategies. Finally, project results are providing valuable inputs for an IMTA bio-economic model under development.

This work has led to a better understanding of overall system efficiencies and has guided the effective development of open-water IMTA farms, through such mechanisms as the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat review process to support policy development and management for Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Date: JAN. 2010–JAN. 2017

Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Network Program

Co-funded by: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO); University of New Brunswick (UNB); New Brunswick Research Productivity Council (NBRPC); Cooke Aquaculture Inc.; Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.; Marine Harvest Canada Limited; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.

Project Lead: Gregor Reid (UNBSJ; DFO)

Project Team: Bruce MacDonald, Thierry Chopin (UNBSJ); Shawn Robinson, Peter Cranford (DFO); Margaret Quinton (U Guelph)

Collaborators: Cooke Aquaculture Inc.

Contact: Gregor.Reid@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: http://www.cimtan.ca/

Schematic representation of model elements to estimate weight ratios of seaweeds needed to sequester nutrients from salmon.

Evaluating the Performance of Proposed and Existing IMTA Sites Using an Ecosystem Modelling Approach

Maximizing the mitigation potential of open-water finfish-shellfish IMTA farms is complex in terms of co-locating the trophic components. Both the dispersal of finfish aquaculture wastes and biological processes are highly influenced by water circulation. Consequently, the evaluation of shellfish-finfish synergy requires a combined study of biological and physical processes, which can be achieved by the implementation and coupling of mathematical models.

In the context of this project, a highly configurable mathematical model that can be applied at the apparent spatial scale of IMTA sites has been developed. The model tracks different components of the seston, including feed wastes, fish faeces, shellfish faeces, natural detritus, and phytoplankton. Based on the specific characterization of these fluxes to local conditions, the model can be used to explore different spatial arrangements of IMTA farms for evaluating finfish-shellfish farm mitigation efficiency. A hypothetical IMTA site was used as a testing ground of the model to explore mitigation efficiency under a broad range of environmental conditions and farm arrangements.

The model predicts that: (1) mitigation efficiency is highly dependent on the background environmental conditions, obtaining maximal mitigation under oligotrophic conditions that stimulate shellfish filtration activity; (2) the dominance of vertical fluxes of particulate matter triggered by the high settling velocity of finfish aquaculture wastes suggests that suspended shellfish aquaculture cannot significantly reduce organic loading of the seabed; and consequently, (3) waste mitigation at IMTA sites should be best achieved by placing organic extractive species (e.g., deposit feeders) on the seabed directly beneath finfish cages rather than in suspension in the water column.

Date: SEP. 2012–JAN. 2017

Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Network Program

Co-funded by: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO); University of New Brunswick (UNB); New Brunswick Research Productivity Council (NBRPC); Cooke Aquaculture Inc.; Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.; Marine Harvest Canada Limited; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.

Project Lead: Jonathan Grant (Dalhousie U)

Project Team: Ramón Filgueira (Dalhousie U); Peter Cranford, Thomas Guyondet (DFO); Gregor Reid (UNBSJ; DFO)

Collaborators: Cooke Aquaculture Inc.

Contact: Jon.Grant@dal.ca

Website: http://www.cimtan.ca/

Plan view and vertical profile trajectories after 12 hours of a subset of particles with different settling velocities released at random positions in three finfish cages (light grey). Mussel longlines are represented in light blue. Note that the vertical and horizontal scales in the vertical profile are different for visualization purposes.

Extensive Versus Intensive IMTA Systems – Hydrographic Influences and the Implications to Infrastructure Design and Operational Efficiency

This project helped to quantify near and far-field hydrodynamics of square and circular cage arrays to guide in the placement of co-cultured species. Initial project work utilized the Finite-Volume primitive equation Community Ocean Model (FVCOM) to model localized currents around an IMTA site in Kyuquot Sound, Vancouver Island, to explore influences at the bay-scale. This was followed by the development of 1:15 scale model cage-arrays, which were deployed in the Flume Tank facility at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Current meters measured wake, velocity, and turbulence around circular and square aquaculture cage-arrays, deployed in common configurations used on the west and east coasts. Dye release studies showed how flow fields in and around cages behaved within and down-stream from the array. Results quantified large velocity deficits in cages wakes, flow forcing around and below cages, and unsteadiness of large scale turbulence in array wakes. The dye release data agree well with wake velocity measurements.

This work has led to a better understanding of overall system efficiencies and has guided the effective development of open-water IMTA farms, through such mechanisms as the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat review process to support policy development and management for Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Date: JAN. 2010–JAN. 2017

Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Network Program

Co-funded by: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO); University of New Brunswick (UNB); New Brunswick Research Productivity Council (NBRPC); Cooke Aquaculture Inc.; Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.; Marine Harvest Canada Limited; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.

Project Lead: Gregor Reid (UNBSJ; DFO)

Project Team: Tiger Jeans, Adam Turner (UNBF); Mike Foreman (DFO); Stephen Cross, Di Wan (UVic)

Collaborators: SEA Vision Group Ltd.; GMG Fish Services Ltd.; Marine Harvest Canada Limited

Contact: Gregor.Reid@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: http://www.cimtan.ca/

Dye release study with 1:15 scale model cage-array, at the Flume Tank facility of Memorial University of Newfoundland. Photo: Adam Turner (UNBF)

A Variation on the IMTA Theme for Land-Based, Freshwater Aquaculture Operations: The Development of Freshwater IMTA (FIMTA) for Salmon and Aquaponic Plants

Freshwater IMTA (FIMTA) applies the same principles as those used in marine IMTA, but in a freshwater setting. Aquaponics is a form of FIMTA that combines animal aquaculture and plant culture, through a microbial link and in a symbiotic relationship. Wastes produced from the fish are either absorbed directly by the plants or converted by microbes and then consumed by the plants.

The development of our FIMTA system involved a two-part investigation. The first part was to identify a suitable freshwater salmon hatchery. This was done with routine water testing at a number of sampling locations within eight hatcheries (4 flow-through and 4 recirculating). The data were used to select a hatchery for further development and to also create a software program that can be used by hatchery managers to quickly identify inadequacies in their water treatment systems and effluent discharge. The second part of the investigation was to collect effluent water from the selected hatchery and use it in a temperature and light controlled pilot-scale FIMTA/aquaponic system to test potential plant species in terms of growth and nutrient removal capabilities. Biochar produced from IMTA grown kelps was used as a substrate.

A total of 13 plant species were tested at temperatures of 10-15°C, as this is the optimal water temperature range for growing salmon in freshwater hatcheries. The ability of the system to remove nutrients from the collected salmon effluent varied depending on the species selected and the biomass they produced, as well as the variability of nutrient levels in the collected effluent.

The analyses indicated that recirculating hatcheries are more valuable candidates for FIMTA systems than conventional flow-through hatcheries. The development of FIMTA for commercial salmon hatcheries will aid in the completion of IMTA from egg to plate. Not only can this be useful for branding purposes, but it can also aid farmers in waste reduction, increased water reuse, increased product diversification, and improvement of societal acceptance of the industry. In particular, reducing phosphorus levels in effluents can help farmers meet water quality guidelines and prevent eutrophication in the environment.

IMTA and FIMTA are included in the Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standard.

Date: SEP. 2012–JAN. 2017

Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Network Program

Co-funded by: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO); University of New Brunswick (UNB); New Brunswick Research Productivity Council (NBRPC); Cooke Aquaculture Inc.; Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.; Marine Harvest Canada Limited; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.

Project Lead: Thierry Chopin (UNBSJ)

Project Team: Stacy Murray, Hamid Khoda Bakhsh, Ellen Belyea, Adrian Hamer (UNBSJ)

Collaborators: Cooke Aquaculture Inc.

Contact: tchopin@unbsj.ca

Website: http://www.cimtan.ca/

The principles of marine IMTA can also be applied to land-based, freshwater systems, also called aquaponics. Yarrow, mint, lettuce, chamomile, and nasturtium after six weeks of growth at 13-15°C in effluent collected at a commercial salmon hatchery. Photo: Thierry Chopin (UNBSJ)

Spatial and Temporal Particulate Dynamics and Their Influence on Update Species Placement at an IMTA Site

Environmental concerns about the location of open-water aquaculture sites are based on issues such as organic wastes, primarily made up of uneaten feed and fecal material. IMTA can potentially minimize this issue by placing species that capture the produced organic matter. The main goal of this project was to investigate the open-water daily temporal and vertical dispersal of waste particles for better defining the placement of extractive species and the required background environmental conditions at an IMTA site on the west coast of Vancouver Island. We conducted in situ measurements, before and after fish feeding, of bio-optical properties, such as particle light scattering and backscattering as proxies for organic particle concentrations, and particulate backscattering ratio and estimated particle index of refraction as indicators of particle compositions, along with discrete measurements of high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) derived pigments and particulate organic carbon, within and beside a finfish cage in the autumn, spring, and summer.

During autumn, lower-cage post feeding optical measurements suggest the dominance of large particles with high indices of refraction, possibly due to the influence of fish fecal particles. Optical variability in spring was driven by diatom bloom conditions (Chaetoceros and Skeletonema) with the optical proxies suggesting dominance by large particles with low indices of refraction. Summer conditions displayed noticeably high and persistent particulate backscattering in surface waters, suggesting the presence of an Emiliania huxleyi bloom. Optical characterization of particulate waste dispersal is constrained to low ambient seston conditions, and would be beneficial for environmental monitoring of ambient particles moving through aquaculture systems.

Tracking and quantifying particulate wastes in these sites generally relies on time consuming, expensive, and low temporal and spatial resolution discrete sampling methods. We utilized in situ bio-optical sensors to collect data at high temporal and vertical resolutions to track particulates within and beside a finfish aquaculture cage.

Date: JAN. 2010–JAN. 2017

Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Network Program

Co-funded by: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO); University of New Brunswick (UNB); New Brunswick Research Productivity Council (NBRPC); Cooke Aquaculture Inc.; Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.; Marine Harvest Canada Limited; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.

Project Lead: Maycira Costa (UVic)

Project Team: Stephen Cross, Justin Del Bel Belluz (UVic); Gregor Reid (UNBSJ; DFO)

Collaborators: Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.

Contact: maycira@uvic.ca

Website: http://www.cimtan.ca/

2011 conditions colour map time series of a) density (sigma-t) and b) backscattering ratio, bbp (660nm) (%). Times are normalized to feeding starting at before-feeding (BF), followed by after-feeding (AF) and then one hour intervals through the day from the AF time-step. After-feeding times are shown by the vertical solid line and high tide (HT) times are shown by the dashed-dotted vertical line. The horizontal lines represent the central depths, 9 m and 13 m, of the averaged time series data presented in c) and d), respectively. In order to reduce the influence of spikes in the data at a single depth, data were averaged from 8–10 m and 12–14 m, with one standard deviation shown as shaded colours. On these plots bbp (660 nm) (%) (primary y-axis) and ξ (right y-axis) are plotted at the same time scales as the colour maps, with the grey shading representing feeding duration.

Design and Demonstration of a Renewable Energy System Powering an IMTA Site

IMTA aims to reduce the environmental impacts of seafood production. However, as most sites are quite remote, diesel fuel is the primary fuel but is clearly non-sustainable from climate change and fuel spill risk perspectives. This project demonstrated a renewable energy system starting with a detailed assessment of the solar, wind, tidal, and wave resources on-site along with the loads associated with dockside operations (primarily for extractive species hoists). The site is purposely sheltered from the open sea, and therefore only solar was found to be viable, although this is likely different at other IMTA sites. A solar-battery system was optimized with particular emphasis on fine-grained temporal resolution to ensure the peak loads, as well as average energy, were satisfied throughout the year. Diesel genset back-up was also considered alongside full battery systems. Mounting of the solar panels and battery bank was also investigated on-board the dockside tram and in stationary locations on the docks. In the end, a system with genset backup was found to be most cost effective to meet extreme power loads in case of protracted low solar irradiation during winter. The system has been installed on site for long term in situ testing and validation of the design, and the modeling tool is available for optimizing such renewable energy systems at other IMTA sites.

Renewable energy provision on site is both viable and critical to achieving truly sustainable operations by avoiding the burning of fossil fuel, as well as associated environmental contamination risks of spills. This project developed a tool for designing such systems and implemented a field demonstration of the system components.

Date: JAN. 2010–JAN. 2017

Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Network Program

Co-funded by: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO); University of New Brunswick (UNB); New Brunswick Research Productivity Council (NBRPC); Cooke Aquaculture Inc.; Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.; Marine Harvest Canada Limited; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.

Project Lead: Curran Crawford (UVic)

Project Team: Stephen Cross, Adam Gray, Nima Tehrani, Pouya Amid (UVic)

Collaborators: Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.

Contact: curranc@uvic.ca

Website: http://www.cimtan.ca/

Installed renewable energy system components at Kyuquot SEAFoods Ltd. site: modular solar panels on dock (left and middle) with battery storage and power electronics in locker (right). Photo: Stephen Cross (UVic)

Optimizing IMTA Species Components Stocking Densities and Infrastructure Orientation to Maximize Overall System Efficiency

To improve the sustainability of IMTA systems, extractive species stocking densities and infrastructure orientations need to be optimised such that they maximise the interception of excess fish-farm nutrients and IMTA efficiency. In order to achieve this objective, the dynamics of nutrient transfer within the site needs to be understood to choose the best configuration and species mix. On the east coast, empirical studies were done on flow patterns and organic particle dilution rates and their potential utilization by farmed and wild species was studied on conventional and IMTA salmon sites to provide input on a model for site efficiency. Results indicated substantial spatial and temporal variation in flows around the farm. On the west coast, the project was focused on optimizing the benthic extraction of nutrients within an IMTA system using the detritus-feeding California Sea Cucumber, Parastichopus californicus. The California Sea Cucumber has been established as a promising candidate for IMTA due to its ability to extract benthic nutrients and its high market value. This study confirmed the potential for cultivation of juvenile P. californicus within suspended trays of an IMTA system. The results of a six-month field trial indicated a positive effect of co-culture with oysters with greater food availability and higher containment success compared to a control site 320 m away. In examining different suspended tray designs, we determined that reduced food availability increases the occurrence of visceral atrophy, reduces sea cucumber growth, and decreases overall IMTA system nutrient recycling efficiency. A trade-off between containment and food availability was found for the co-cultured sea cucumbers.

Expanding our knowledge of nutrient transfer within current IMTA site designs will help the industry develop their infrastructure and also provide inputs into future designs of aquaculture farms. These studies will also contribute to the understanding of the risk of various materials advecting away from the farm point-source in relation to the dilution rates. Expanding our knowledge of P. californicus as a benthic extractive species within IMTA systems and addressing issues such as containment of this species will be mutually beneficial to resource managers and industry partners.

Date: JAN. 2013–JAN. 2017

Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Network Program

Co-funded by: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO); University of New Brunswick (UNB); New Brunswick Research Productivity Council (NBRPC); Cooke Aquaculture Inc.; Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.; Marine Harvest Canada Limited; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.

Project Lead: Shawn Robinson (DFO)

Project Team: Bruce MacDonald, Taryn Minch, Thierry Chopin (UNBSJ); Gregor Reid (UNBSJ; DFO); Chris Pearce (DFO); Stephen Cross, Angela Fortune, Hailey Davies (UVic); Colleen Haddad (VIU)

Collaborators: Cooke Aquaculture Inc.; Effingham Oysters Ltd.; Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.

Contact: Shawn.Robinson@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Website: http://www.cimtan.ca/

Taryn Minch (UNBSJ) and Adena Peters (UNBSJ) monitoring an acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) while it measures the current speed and direction of the water in the water column around an aquaculture farm in the Bay of Fundy. Photo: Shawn Robinson (DFO)

Economic Implications of IMTA

Our research has addressed key economic aspects of the aquaculture commercialization process in Canada, namely benefits for consumers of aquaculture products and society at large, as well as potential producer benefits. In the first case, extensive household surveying in the major consuming region (west coast, USA) demonstrated a clear willingness to pay more for IMTA products (e.g., salmon, shellfish)–averaging 9% more for IMTA versus conventional farmed salmon. Salmon consumers were also willing to pay more for IMTA products versus those from closed containment aquaculture (CCA). The reverse was true in the producing region (British Columbia, Canada) when the general public was asked about their willingness to pay to support the development of IMTA versus CCA: CCA attracted greater levels of support. In general, preferences for IMTA were stronger in the USA than in Canada (see figure attached), while preferences for CCA were stronger in Canada than in the USA, where a small segment of consumers actually see CCA negatively.

On the producer side, the results are only just emerging. Earlier economic studies suggested IMTA is more profitable than conventional salmon farming. But if this is true, why has it not been adopted more extensively? Earlier studies likely underestimated the added costs of IMTA production, such as the extra management costs and risk associated with a more complex production system. We are carrying out more rigorous modelling to factor in real world constraints, such as effluent standards and site licensing limits, and to investigate policy tools to promote IMTA.

Our main impact will be on how policymakers respond to the problems associated with monoculture salmon farming and on how to help assess the role IMTA should play in the process. This can influence the design of programs and incentives to help the industry better align its activities to benefit society.

Date: JAN. 2010–JAN. 2017

Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Network Program

Co-funded by: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO); University of New Brunswick (UNB); New Brunswick Research Productivity Council (NBRPC); Cooke Aquaculture Inc.; Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.; Marine Harvest Canada Limited; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.

Project Lead: Duncan Knowler (SFU)

Project Team: Patrick Kitchen, Winnie Yip, Kim Irwin, Stefan Crampton, Hossein Ayouqi, Mark Carras (SFU)

Contact: djk@sfu.ca

Website: http://www.cimtan.ca/

Support for IMTA as expressed in survey responses by (a) salmon consumers in USA west coast markets, and (b) the general public in British Columbia, Canada.

Social Implications of IMTA: Coastal Communities and the Appetite for Aquaculture

Our work has continued along the tenets of social license and perceptions of IMTA in Canada. In 2015, we co-hosted information workshops where an exchange of dialogue and knowledge explored the particular and nuanced interests of British Columbia First Nations communities. Building on this work we sought to further explore perceptions of IMTA amongst coastal communities of the west and east coasts of Canada, and to situate these perceptions amongst finfish, shellfish, and seaweed aquaculture, as well as seafood consumption and purchase preferences. Survey teams were dispatched to the small coastal communities (populations < 5,000 inhabitants) of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and to the Maritime communities along the coast of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Together, the teams collected 657 survey interviews.

Preliminary findings indicate significant differences in awareness of aquaculture and in perceptions, and between the two coasts. The overall response to IMTA was favourable. In British Columbia and the Maritimes, the majority of respondents thought the government should encourage the present finfish aquaculture industry to adopt IMTA methods (54% and 71%, respectively), and over 65% of respondents from both coasts would support the development of new aquaculture farms based on the IMTA production system. Notably, 44% of British Columbia respondents and 35% of east coast respondents said they would pay more for products certified as IMTA; however, almost half of all respondents also identified that they do not purchase farmed seafood, citing their ability to access and obtain wild seafood through personal means or social networks.

Our research indicates that the adaptability of the IMTA system is its greatest asset in its future development. Different interest groups will express different values in the design, scale and operations of a system amidst a variegated geographic and often contentious political landscape that has characterized much of Canada’s aquaculture development. In the new era of participatory governance, the undermining or absence of including significant interest groups may pre-emptively determine the future of IMTA development.

Date: JAN. 2010–JAN. 2017

Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Network Program

Co-funded by: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO); University of New Brunswick (UNB); New Brunswick Research Productivity Council (NBRPC); Cooke Aquaculture Inc.; Kyuquot SEAfoods Ltd.; Marine Harvest Canada Limited; Grieg Seafood BC Ltd.

Project Lead: Mark Flaherty (UVic)

Project Team: Stephen Cross, Erin Latham, Katie Tebutt (UVic); Grant Murray (VIU)

Contact: flaherty@mail.geog.uvic.ca

Website: http://www.cimtan.ca/

Erin Latham (UVic) helping with scallop lantern nets. Photo: David Schmidt (Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw First Nation)